The non-covalent interaction between cuttlefish skin gelatin and tannic acid was observed in gelatin modified with unoxidized tannic acid at pH 7, whereas covalent interaction was found in gelatin modified with oxidized tannic acid at pH 9. Degree of tannic acid incorporation into gelatin via non-covalent interaction was more pronounced than that found via covalent interaction as evidenced by lowered free amino group content and increased total phenolic content and hydroxyl group and aromatic ring determined by FTIR. Gelatin modified with oxidized tannic acid had the slight decrease in surface hydrophobicity, with no changes in particle size distribution of the emulsions. Modification of gelatin with tannic acid, especially via non-covalent interaction, increased in vitro antioxidative activity, compared with the control gelatin. Gelatin modified with tannic acid via covalent interaction rendered the emulsion with high stability and could inhibit lipid oxidation of menhaden oil-in-water emulsion effectively throughout the storage of 12 days. Industrial relevance Cuttlefish skin gelatin modified with tannic acid possessing both emulsifying activity and the improved antioxidative activity can be used as a natural and safe additive in food industry. Therefore, cuttlefish skin, a by-product from seafood processing industry, can be produced as the high value added product with wider applications.